German midfielder Mario Götze is looking forward to Thursday’s World Cup match, where his team will take on the USA in the final game of the group stage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. If team USA manages a draw or a win, they’ll advance in the cup, while Germany also needs either a draw or a win. But for Götze, the importance of the match doesn’t merely come down to World Cup glory. For him, it’s a matter of history.
On Tuesday, Götze sat down with a Brazilian radio host to chat about Germany’s upcoming match against the USA. At first, the chat was cordial, with Götze offering praise to USA goalkeeper Tim Howard, and USA star striker Clint Dempsey, joking about his broken nose and saying that he “wish[es] Dempsey would come join us over at Bayern Munich,” referencing the German league team he plays for. But when he was asked what he thought about Dempsey’s nickname, “Captain America,” Götze made a rather shocking statement about the match.
“Look, I appreciate the USA team, like I said. But that nickname is offensive to us Germans,” Götze explained. “The superhero `Captain America’ is always depicted killing Germans. I like the player, but not the name.”
Götze was told by the radio host that the fictional character only killed Nazi Germans, and that’s where the controversy stirred. “Nazi Germans are still Germans. I had family that fought in the war. I respect these players and I respect the USA team, but this isn’t about football, not to me. It’s about history. It’s about Germany seeking vengeance for America’s war crimes during the second World War. And it’s about how snooty they get about that war, how they make Germany out to be the bad guys, and that’s a reputation that haunts us even today.”
When the host asked Götze about the holocaust, the 22 year-old midfielder got rather angry. “That always gets brought up. It shouldn’t be mentioned at all, but you people always bring it up. Did I gas the Jews? Did I stick them in camps? No. Shut up about it. Look, this game isn’t about that. It’s about the bad perception people have of Germans. You all think we just sit around, drinking beer and eating sauerkraut and complaining about Jews. I’m not saying that never happens, but it’s an unfair stereotype.”
“We’re taking the USA down. This is the third world war for me,” Götze concluded. “I’m not playing for personal glory. I’m playing to pay tribute to those fallen Germans murdered by invading American occupiers. F–k the USA! But not their players. I like their players.”
Team USA’s manager, Jürgen Klinsmann, a native of Germany, brushed off Götze’s hostile words in the team’s training camp on Tuesday. “The USA crushed Germany once, and we can… no, we will, do it again. We’re marching on the Eagle’s Nest. Götze and his teammates don’t know what’s coming for them.”